Film / Insidious

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"It's not the house that's haunted."

Insidious is a 2011 thriller/horror film directed by James Wan, co-creator of the Saw series (and director of Saw) and director of The Conjuring.

Josh and Renai have three children, the oldest being ten-year-old Dalton. As they begin to settle into a new home, they experience strange noises and other unexplained phenomena. Soon Dalton is rushed to the hospital in a coma, suffering a severe head injury after falling in the attic. Months slip by, and the doctors still have no explanation for his continuing coma. When the boy is returned home under his mother's care, more frightening events occur in the home. The mother is so horrified that she moves the family to a another new home in hopes of leaving the fearful memories behind them.

The family quickly discovers that the haunting has nothing to do with their home. The supernatural outpouring is coming from their comatose son. Several scientific experts observe the son, the family and their home. They determine that Dalton is trapped on the other side in a dark world they call The Further. The parents team with the scientists to try to bring their boy back from The Further and save him from the clutches of a dark entity that hopes to claim him as his own.

A sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on September (Friday the) 13th, 2013. It follows on from the events of the first film, and is once again directed by Wan. A prequel, Insidious: Chapter 3, was released June 5, 2015 and was directed by Wan's long-time friend and Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell.

Another sequel, titled Insidious: Chapter 4, was announced in 2016, with a release date of October 20, 2017, and will follow the events of Chapter 3. It was eventually delayed to January 5th, 2018 and renamed Insidious: The Last Key. The first trailer can be seen here. An alternate, international version with different footage can be seen here.


This film series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Chapter 2: Parker Crane's mother forcing him to dress and act as a girl rather than his own gender identity (male) is already a really bad start, but the fact that she violently abused him whenever he acted like a boy, as well as forcing him to kill people for her multiple times is what really puts her over the edge.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Most of the first half of the movie runs on this - your child being injured and screaming while you have no idea where he is, in an unfamiliar home; same child falling into a coma after you sort of dismiss his head wound; the door being broken open, chain snapped and alarm blaring seconds after you check that no one is outside; strange people appearing in your children's rooms...
    • In Chapter 2', once again the baby monitor picks up speech from the baby's room. This time however, the door slams shut with the ghost inside, and when it finally opens the child is nowhere to be found.
  • Alien Geometries: Accessible only through astral projection, way too big to be mapped and it takes minutes to travel miles.
  • Alliterative Name: The Woman in White and the Bride in Black in Chapter 2.
  • And I Must Scream: A few of them exist from the residents of the Further, given its nature. In Chapter 2, Josh cries out with a piano-bang Jump Scare when Parker Crane prevents him from attempting to contact his family from within the Further-version of his home.
  • Anti-Villain: In the first film, Elise states that most of the lost spirits in the Further want to possess a living body simply because they desperately want to live again.
  • Astral Projection: How Dalton gets lost in The Further, and Josh gets him back.
  • Audible Sharpness: In Chapter 2, when Josh, as possessed by Parker Crane, pulls a knife from behind his back, there is a slight SHING.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • In Chapter 2, Parker Crane. Justified considering what his mother did to him.
    • His Mother is off her rocker too, considering what she did to her son as well as the fact that she tries to strangle Josh to death in the climax with an utterly maniacal Slasher Smile.
  • Badass Beard: Tucker, the tall paranormal team member, has one.
  • Bald of Evil: The red faced demon does have some hair, but the top of his head is completely bald.
  • Big Bad:
    • The lipstick faced demon in the first film.
    • The sequel has Parker Crane and his mother Michelle Crane.
    • And the prequel has The Man Who Can't Breathe.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Black Bride and The Man Who Can't Breathe in Chapter 3. The former is a threat to Elise and the latter to Quinn. They work independently and never share any scenes. At the end, the Lipstick Demon arrives to challenge Elise as well.
  • Big Good: Elise, who continues to help the characters fight the malevolent spirits even after her death.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Michelle Crane sometimes sports these during Chapter 2.
  • Brick Joke: In Chapter 2, as they prepare to try and subdue a possessed Josh, Specs and Tucker have an argument about which code word Carl should use if something should go wrong: "quesadilla" or "unicorn". Carl, annoyed, admonishes them for it. Later on, however, when possessed Josh tries to throttle him:
    Carl: (barely getting the word out) Quesadilla!
  • Broken Bird: Elise in Chapter 3. She seems reluctant to help Quinn contact her mother and just seems like an unhappy person. However it's revealed the reason she's like this is due to the loss of her husband, Jack. She takes the kindness level she has from the first two films once she gets a talk with Carl.
  • Call-Back:
    • Chapter 2 shows us who was randomly knocking on the door and how it was left wide open before the family moved as Josh's spirit.
    • Young Josh's astral projection sequence from the beginning of the film gets explained twice. Elise lampshades it.
  • Call-Forward: In Chapter 3, Elise is nearly strangled twice by the Bride in Black. At the end, she tells Tucker and Specs that she will probably die by the demon's hand eventually, which is what happens at the end of the first film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The song Renai plays in the first film is heard again, albeit not played quite as well, in the second film when the piano seemingly starts playing by itself. It's a sign that Josh is trying to communicate with her from within the Further.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Bride in Black, Parker Crane, who has a small role in the first film and is the central antagonist in the second film.
    • In Chapter 3, when Elise went into The Further for the first time, she met a crying dead woman who is too afraid to tell her where the Big Bad is. Thinking the woman has nothing to do with the Big Bad, Elise ignored her at the time. Later, it turns out that woman is also the Big Bad's captive and she does know where The Man Who Can't Breathe is.
  • Cool Old Lady: Elise, and Lorraine, to lesser extent.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: In the prequel, one of Quinn's neighbours - although her craziness was most likely the ghost's fault. She tries to help Elise after death and eventually succeeds.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The Bride in Black is revealed to be this in the second film.
  • Creepy Child: The demon first appears to Renai in the form of a little boy. The cover art also seemed to imply that Dalton was this. Unless you look at his pupil which says Help. , though that's not really the case in-film.
  • Creepy Good: Elise is a creepy old lady with Psychic Powers who talks about Things Man Was Not Meant to Know as if she's discussing the weather...but she's legitimately trying to help the protagonists save their kid from evil spirits.
  • Crosscast Role: The old woman haunting Josh is played by a man. Becomes a plot point in the second film.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: At the end of the first film, Josh turns out to be possessed by the Bride In Black, who uses him to murder Elise. It is somewhat mitigated by the following film.
  • Daylight Horror:
    • The demon first appears to Lorraine in the front room of the Lamberts' second house in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
    • Same for Chapter 2 with the Woman in White. She appears to Renai, nearly steals the baby, and knocks her out in the full bright of day.
  • Demonic Possession: With Dalton's mind elsewhere, it leaves his body open to this. Josh as well.
  • Downer Ending: The first film ends with Josh being possessed by an old woman from The Further he encountered as a child, who then uses his body to kill Elise.
  • Driven to Suicide: Parker Crane (aka the Bride in Black) killed himself by jumping out of a hospital window.
    • In Chapter 3, it turns out that the reason Elise is so unhappy at the beginning is because her husband Jack, who was suffering from depression, took his own life.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Insidious 2; Josh is finally freed from his possession and Carl hypnotizes him and Josh into forgetting their astral projection abilities, severing the family's ties to The Further for good.
    • One could say the same for Elise, Specs, and Tucker, considering that despite her death, Elise still has contact with the two and they go onto another paranormal case.
  • Facial Horror: The tall, long-haired ghost (simply credited as Long Haired Fiend) that appears several times throughout the first film. When he's first seen, he looks fairly normal, albeit creepy. In his later appearances, his face appears mutilated to the extent that he's missing his lips and nose. The sequel reveals that the damage was due to Elise burning his face with a lantern.
  • For the Evulz: The Black Bride in Chapter 3 attacks Elise in The Further just to show she's evil even if Elise was only there to help Quinn, whose soul is captured by another evil spirit, at the time.
  • Foreshadowing: Early on in the first film, Renai mentions to Dalton that they don't have any childhood photos of Josh, and that he's apparently terrible at keeping old photos. It later turns out that there do exist childhood photos of Josh - except the Bride in Black appears in the background of several of them, and these photos were kept hidden from him by Lorraine after his memories of his astral projection ability were suppressed. This is also foreshadowed a bit later on, when Lorraine expresses surprise that Renai was actually able to convince Josh to pose for a family photo.
    • After Dalton bangs his head, he looks towards the far end of the attic at something the audience never gets to see, which then makes a horrible cracking sound. Later, we learn that this cracking sound is associated with the demon.
    • In the sequel, when Specs, Tucker, Lorraine and Carl first enter the Crane household, they all grimace at a foul smell coming from somewhere. Not long after, they discover a hidden room filled with the preserved corpses of Parker Crane's victims.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The little ghost boy can be briefly seen before his more obvious appearances. He's simply standing facing a wall.
    • In the sequel, the Mother can likewise be seen sitting down quietly before Renai encounters her.
  • Grand Theft Me: Between Josh and the Bride in Black.
  • Groin Attack: In Chapter 2, Lorraine recalls that Parker Crane was admitted to hospital after trying to castrate himself.
    • Played for Laughs earlier in the same film when Tucker bangs his crotch into a table in Elise's reading room.
  • Haunted House: Subverted. The Lamberts only think they have this problem.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The red-faced demon, and, to a lesser extent, many of the ghosts.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: It's full of the souls of the dead forced to relive their deaths. And it also leads to Hell.
  • In the Blood: Dalton's ability to astral project was inherited from Josh. His ability may have come from his mother.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The demons in these films just enjoy children's toys/music, by the looks of it.
    • In Chapter 2, Renai sees the Woman in White singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
  • Jump Scare: This film is filthy with them.
    • On the DVD special features, in a short documentary called "Horror 101", the creators say they were specifically trying to avoid the conventional "jump scare" which comes out of nowhere, carries no suspense whatsoever, and has no real meaning or effect on the plot; all the jump scares in Insidious are quite carefully built up to, and all of them serve to further the story.
  • Lecherous Licking: In his appearance at the seance, the Long Haired Fiend grabs a horrified Renai and forcefully licks her face.
  • Murder-Suicide: While in the Further towards the end of the first film, Josh sees this play out with the Smiling Family.
  • My Beloved Smother: Parker Crane has this, as well as being full-on abusive. She continues to have a hold on him even after her death.
  • My Nayme Is: "Cali" (Cally) and "Renai" (Renée).
  • Never Mess with Granny: Made more apparent in Chapter 3 where after getting a pep talk with Carl, Elise goes to the Further to rescue Quinn while kicking the undead asses of the entities there like a boss. See her lay the smackdown on the Bride in Black with her even making a Bring It gesture against her in the final moments of the fight as the best example.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Chapter 3 was advertised as "going back to the beginning". Somewhat true. The film does show us how Elise met Specs and Tucker but the main plot of the film, and the characters, have nothing to do with the first two films.
  • New House, New Problems:
    • Actually happens twice, after the family tries moving.
    • And when they leave their second house to stay with Lorraine while the police work on it, Lorraine's house becomes haunted as well. Justified, as the spirits are haunting people, not houses.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Josh, instead of fleeing straight back to his physical body, spots the Bride in Black still stalking him and yells at her to leave him alone. This unfortunately only allows the Bride to steal his body and leave Josh's astral body trapped in the Further.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Dalton's drawings turn out to be images he drew of his experiences in the Further.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Subverted. Upon encountering the Bride in Black for the first time since childhood, Josh starts yelling this almost word-for-word at her and appears to actually drive her off. Unfortunately, this doesn't work. All it does is allow the Bride enough time to possess Josh's physical body and leave his soul trapped in the Further.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: In the prequel, Quinn is terrified to see a faceless woman crawling on the ground towards her. It is revealed however that that woman is part of her soul -the part taken by the Man Who Cant Breathe- and as such is most likely that she was just trying to go back to her body.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The Dancing Boy scene can be extremely scary, because: 1) It happened during the sunny day instead of darkly night; 2) It's just unnerving if you imagine a little kid appears in your house out of nowhere and wandering your house mischievously; 3) He even hides in the comatose Dalton's room's closet! Imagine if your child is in the same room with an entity from another world. Doubles with Adult Fear, certainly; 4) For some people, a ghost in little kid's form can be scarier than ghost in adult form. Although, the Dancing Boy isn't actually malicious entity in the film; 5) Well, just see the Freeze-Frame Bonus. Unless your eyes are sharp enough, you probably won't even realize he was there in the first place; 6) This is also the first scene which made the song "Tiptoe through the Tulips" become scary in the film. Later when this song is played again, you know something bad is going to happen.
    • When the mother goes to check on the baby during the night and There is a man standing just behind the crib. Due to where the camera is focused and the curtains, it blends into the background. It's only after she looks up that you realize it was there from the moment she had walked into the room.
    • The cliffhanger from the end of the sequel.
  • Offscreen Afterlife: Chapter 2 strongly implies that Elise was in Heaven, or a similar dimension, before willingly returning to the Further to help Josh once again.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Done by the Smiling Family.
  • Oh, Crap!: Elise, given her usual demeanor and motions in dealing with the supernatural, gives this face when something more sinister than imaginable comes into play. And, given her reaction at the end of Chapter 2...
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Chapter 2: Elise's taped interview with Josh in 1986 is revisited in person via astral projection, explaining a young Josh's cryptic line, "I'll show you."
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In Chapter 2, Renai becomes even more suspicious of Josh when he doesn't recognise the tune that's been playing on the piano: one of the songs she wrote for him.
    • In Chapter 3, Elise encounters her deceased husband, Jack, in the Further, who tries to persuade her to kill herself so they can be together again. Elise knows that Jack would never ask her to do such a thing, revealing that this entity is actually the Bride in Black in disguise.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Elise receives a particularly brutal one from the demon during a seance. She survives it none too worse for the wear though.
  • Possession Burnout: Josh's body begins to deteriorate after being possessed by the Bride in Black. It returns to normal when his soul returns to his body.
  • Psycho Strings: Other than the Soundtrack Dissonance, pretty much the entire soundtrack in the second half of the film.
  • Scare Chord: Plenty of them.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The final shot of the first film sets up the plot of the second film.
    • The second film has a similar ending with Elise (presumably) seeing the lipstick-face demon from the first film again, as a sound effect associated with him plays during this moment.
    • The third film – a prequel – ends with Elise and her dog discovering a presence at her door... only for the lipstick demon to Jump Scare out from behind her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In a scene where we see Josh behind his teacher's desk in the classroom, the face drawn in chalk on the blackboard is the puppet from Saw.
    • In the scene where Elise tries to make contact with a dreaming Dalton, the gas mask she puts on looks exactly like the one used by Dream of the Endless.
  • Slasher Smile: A few of the spirits have them, most notably the Doll Girls. The Bride in Black sports a particularly maniacal one, too, as does Michelle Crane.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Tiptoe to the window, by the window, that is where I'll be, come tiptoe through the tulips with me..."
    • "Row, row, row your boat . . ."
  • Spooky Photographs: In the first chapter, these signify the ever approaching presence of the Old Woman in Black throughout the photos of Josh, and sets up the unfortunate reveal at its' end. In the second, while his body is occupied by the spirit, Josh consults his younger self—taking place in 1986—while in The Further, setting himself as the spirit when caught in a recorded still of that moment!
  • Spooky Séance: Elise convinces the family to try this so she can bring back Dalton's spirit.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: In Chapter 3, the ghostly crawling version of Quinn that appears in the Further is straight out of a Japanese horror movie.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: At first. Later it is revealed that the reason he was ignoring the evidence was that he too was haunted when he was young. Then again in the second film, where Josh repeatedly insists that their ghost troubles are over and nothing is wrong, but subverted. It's actually Parker Crane in Josh's body saying that, because he doesn't want them to start investigating and realize he isn't Josh.
  • Those Two Guys: Tucker and Specs, in all three films.
  • Title Drop: Done by Elise. While some spirits in The Further can be benign ghosts, others have "a more insidious agenda."
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Dalton, in the sequel. He saves his mother from being killed by a possessed Josh with a ball bat before diving into the Further to lead his father back to his body.
    • Elise in all three films but most especially in Chapter 3 where she gives the Bride in Black a nice ass-kicking for having the gall to get in her way while she's trying to save Quinn.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Josh... twice in a row. Before entering the Further he was very clearly told that he must act stealthy. Of course, once inside he questioned every being he met. So much for being stealthy. Then once back in his house, before going back to his body, he met the Old Lady that tried to possess him when he was 8. With not much time left, he chose to yell at her (while she wasn't in any position to do something harmful against him or someone he cares about) instead of continuing on his way. In the end, the few seconds he lost prevented him from coming back in our world, and lead to Elise's demise.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Some of Josh's teeth fall out when his physical body is possessed by Parker Crane.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: "It's not the house that's haunted, it's your son."
  • True Companions: Elise, Specs, and Tucker. The three obviously make a remarkable team of investigators, to the point where in Chapter 2 she's still with Specs and Tucker even when she's dead. Chapter 3 shows how they met for the first time and at the end of the story, they agree to work together.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Specs and Tucker spend a lot of time bickering and snarking at each other, but are shown to truly care about each other.
  • Wall Crawl: The red-faced demon briefly does this towards the end of the first film, when chasing after Dalton.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The other two kids in Chapter 1 don't really appear again in after the family moves into the second house.
      • It's briefly mentioned that they are staying with Josh's mother.
    • For that matter, the young boy apparition disappears halfway through the film. However, since some of the apparitions in the first film are explained through ghostly time travel in the second film, it's possible that he, too, will be explained later.
  • Wolverine Claws: The demon has them.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Chapter 2: Parker Crane, who in spite of his monstrous actions, is pitiable, courtesy of his horrible backstory.

Alternative Title(s): Insidious Chapter 2, Insidious Chapter 3

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